Linked by Davon Shire on Wed 23rd Feb 2005 21:51 UTC
Editorial Amazing is the recent interest in full, live, operating systems that can fit on a 50 MB CD-ROM. It's totally astounding that they can cram so much onto such a tiny disk. But wait.. let's run back to the days of old.. back to say 1988.
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by JH on Thu 24th Feb 2005 00:24 UTC

It's great to remember the good ol' days. But don't forget that people have to get work done. I amused myself for countless hours with my C64 and 386SX growing up, BBSing, trying to program, doing simple graphics and raytracing. But that was it, I was amusing myself and learning things, I wasn't doing the kind of work people get paid for.

Lots of people in pretty much any job back then didn't use PCs: car designers, graphic artists and printers, police officers, salesmen ... all they were for was accounting and word processing.

There wasn't any Photoshop, Illustrator 88 didn't really do color exactly, there wasn't 1/1000th of the breadth of specialized apps we have today ... all you could really *use* a personal computer for was word processing, Lotus 1-2-3 and corporate data entry apps. Movie special effects, newspaper reporters, the phone company -- they all either didn't use computers or they used some weird proprietary system involving dumb terminals and a mainframe. Something else we all take for granted these days is, uh, networking. Sure I had an e-mail address and access to gopher in like 1992 via dial-up to a local provider's ASCII system. But Windows didn't even support TCP/IP natively until Windows 95, as anyone who ever set up a 10-base-T card using DOS drivers will remember. Appletalk came close to today's P2P LAN environments, but it worked by connecting these funny cables, and it was SO SLOW, even when you were only moving 10K Word 5.1 files around. Slower-than-sneakernet slow.

And the 2 days it would take my 386 to render a simple 640x480 anti-aliased raytrace of a simple scene? I might look back fondly on it now, but back then it just sucked, and I couldn't play any games or do anything else while it churned away. When I got a 486 and the same thing suddenly only took 30 minutes I almost died I was so happy.

No doubt about it, the C64, Atari ST and Amiga were MHz for MHz and MB for MB far better machines with far better software than anything made today. But try writing a stable modern OS like Windows 2000 in x86 assembly code and see how far you get!